The Eastern Michigan University athletic department justified the costs of their football road game to Louisiana State University with a near seven-figure check.
According to the athletic department, the trip cost EMU $146,015.77, but they received $985,000 from LSU for a net profit of $838,984.23.
“The game guarantees are really how we fund a lot of things,” said Greg Steiner, EMU’s Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations.
The team flew from Ypsilanti, Mich. on Friday, Oct. 2 to Baton Rouge, La. and returned late on Saturday, Oct. 3.
Seventy football players and 17 coaches went on the trip as well as several donors, who bought a special package to be included, and 58 others.
The 58 other people on the trip were ten equipment managers, eight trainers, eight wives of coaches, six doctors, six administrators, four video coordinators, three radio personnel, three strength and conditioning personnel, two sports information personnel, two family members of a regent, two former regents, the director of ticket operations, the regent administrator, one current regent and the director of football operations.
James Clifton and Roy Wilbanks were the two former regents on the trip. Executive Director of Media Relations Geoff Larcom said Clifton and Wilbanks paid for their own rooms.
“They’re long-time supporters of EMU athletics, and Wilbanks made a contribution to the athletic department,” said Larcom.
Larcom explained that non-football essential personnel presented no extra flight costs because the team had extra seats open on the chartered plane.
Current regent Mary Treder Lang, who went with her husband and daughter, was sent in President Kim Schatzel’s place.
“She represented the university in interacting with the LSU leaders and EMU donors and alumni gatherings, which is a normal and expected practice, to have an university administrative leader, which she was, representing your institution on such a trip," said Larcom. "She met with LSU leaders and presented a gift on behalf of Eastern. You want someone to be the face of the university from an administrative standpoint.”
According to Steiner, the coaches’ wives are allowed to go on one trip per year per contract. No information was found about that in coach Chris Creighton’s original contract.
Along with the $985,000 made from the LSU trip, the EMU football team pulled in $200,000 from traveling to Wyoming. They also paid Old Dominion University $250,000 and Army West Point $150,000 to play at Rynearson Stadium this season.
Eastern Michigan will also net $1.3 million dollars to travel to the University of Missouri next year according to the minutes from the June 16 Board of Regents meeting.
Editors Note: University officials sought to clarify Regent Treder Lang's travel to LSU after the publication of this story by noting the regent was not 'sent' by Interim President Schatzel but rather chose to travel with her husband and daughter on the trip and to represent the university administration on the Baton Rouge campus. Officials said the university's president would normally fulfill that function, however, Interim President Schatzel, was unable to travel due to campus commitments related to her dual roles as both Interim President and Provost.